BLET Director of Research Dennis C. Simmerman, 1949-2008

Dennis C. Simmerman, BLET's Director of Research and Assistant to the President, passed away on March 7 after a battle with cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Bobbie; sons Andrew and Brett (Carissa); a grandson, Blake Charles; and many more family members and friends.

"As Director of Research, Brother Simmerman played a major role in each and every round of national contract negotiations since 1983," said BLET National President Don Hahs. "He was an honest, humble and modest man, and his impact on the Brotherhood cannot be overstated.

"His knowledge of the Brotherhood and its complex collective bargaining agreements was unmatched. His work over the last 25 years has had a positive impact on each and every member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, whether they knew Dennis or not," President Hahs said. "Those who knew him cannot find words to express our profound sense of loss and sadness. He was a devoted husband, father and family man. He was a proud locomotive engineer and a proud Brotherhood employee.

"My heart goes out to his widow Bobbie, and on behalf of the entire organization, I extend deepest sympathies to the entire Simmerman family," President Hahs said.

Brother Simmerman, 58, began his railroad career in 1972 when he began working as a fireman in Superior, Wisc., employed by the Soo Line Railroad. He quickly earned promotion to locomotive engineer in 1974.

His interest in working for the welfare of fellow railroad workers began in 1975 when he joined the Brotherhood as a member of Division 808 in Superior, Wisc. He immediately became an active member and was soon elected to local chairman. In 1977, he was elected General Chairman of the Soo Line General Committee of Adjustment, where he served until he was appointed in 1981 to the BLET's National Office, as assistant to the Director of Research.

He served the Brotherhood as Director of Research since Jan. 1, 1983, and was appointed to that post by then-BLE President John F. Sytsma. While continuing to serve as Director of Research, Brother Simmerman won election to the office of Alternate General Secretary-Treasurer in in 1991 and in 1996. In 1986, he was elected to the position of Fourth Alternate Vice President, eventually moving up the ranks to First Alternate Vice President.

In his work as Director of Research, Brother Simmerman was a member of all BLET National Wage/Rule Committees since 1983 and played a vital role in formulating contract issues and negotiating strategies. He also served on the Labor Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Labor.

Prior to his railroad career, Brother Simmerman served in the U.S. Army from August 1970 to February 1972, during which time he was a personal aide to Major General Kenneth Bayer at Colorado Springs, Colo.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Superior in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in pre-law and history.

Brother Simmerman was born December 16, 1949 in Milwaukee, Wisc. He was a volunteer at a suburban Cleveland hospital where his wife Bobbie is the Director of Community Outreach. He had served as president of his church council and enjoyed sailing, golf, tennis, skiing and coaching.

During his battle with cancer, Brother Simmerman expressed many times how fortunate he felt to have the health care benefits that enabled him to receive the treatments he needed. It was his wish that an Indigent Care Fund be set up through Southwest General Hospital, where he received care. The fund has the potential to give end-of-life care to those who do not have the ability to pay for it. Donations in the name of Dennis Simmerman can be made to the Southwest Hospice Indigent Care Fund, 18659 Drake Rd., Strongsville 44136.

Cards and other expressions of sympathy may be sent to the Simmerman family at: 20220 Colleen Court, Strongsville, OH 44149.



© 2008 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen